1. Donationrwingett
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    08 Dec '05 02:31
    I've been studying early Christian history off and on for a while now. One thing that has interested me is how the bible came to be written. Two items in particular - the "two source hypothesis" and the "Q document", have been of great interest. Since so many of the recent threads here have been absolute garbage, I've decided to write a post about the Q document. I've tried to keep it short enough to be readable, but have had to sacrifice a great amount of information in the process. So here it is:

    Many people have long speculated that what ended up in the bible has little relation to what Jesus may or may not have actually said (for the purposes of this post, I will assume that Jesus actually existed in some capacity). The traditional Christian myth claims that the bible is the word of God, which Jesus passed on to the apostles, who passed them down to the church fathers, who passed it on to the bishops, in an unbroken line of “apostolic succession”, down to this day. This view is demonstrably false. On the contrary, It has been deduced that much of what is now in the New Testament was written long after Jesus’ death, which is generally thought to have occurred between 26 and 36 CE. Most sources put Mark as being the oldest of the gospels, probably having been written between 65 and 70 CE. This leaves a gap of at least 30 years between Jesus’ death and the writing of Mark.

    The early Jesus community transmitted their beliefs mainly via oral tradition until things were written down in the mid to late first century. It is certain that during this formative period, wholesale errors or many outright distortions were introduced into the Christian doctrine. There are many who would claim that the bible (and modern Christianity) owes more to Paul than it does to Jesus. The problem is compounded by the fact that there were many widely divergent variations of Christianity during the first two centuries, all of which claimed to have their origin in Jesus’ teachings. How, then, is one to know what it was that Jesus actually said? And more importantly, how closely does modern Christianity resemble what Jesus had in mind?

    It has been argued that the oldest of Jesus’ teachings would be the most authentic. They would have been subjected to the least amount of error or manipulation. If one could reconstruct what was being said during the lost period of oral tradition, they would have the most authentic teachings of Jesus. This is where the “Q document” comes into play. The Q document (Q from the German word Quelle, which means source) is a hypothetical lost text which is likely to have contained the earliest recorded sayings of Jesus, and which is at the heart of the “two source hypothesis.”

    They two source hypothesis claims that both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke have much in common which had its source in the Gospel of Mark (the earliest known gospel). They also have much in common which does not come from Mark. It has been theorized that they must have had a second source: a lost, hypothetical collection of sayings which have been dubbed “Q.” The two source hypothesis was first put forth in 1838 by Christian Hermann Weisse, but its existence and contents remained highly speculative. Following modern biblical discoveries, such as the Nag Hammadi library, the two source hypothesis has gained increasing acceptance amongst biblical scholars. By using the Gospel of Thomas and by comparing Luke with Matthew, it has been possible to make a good reconstruction of what the Q document contained.

    Without going into any details on its purported contents, the hypothetical Q document reveals the teachings of Jesus in a very different light. We see that when Jesus preaches of the kingdom, it is to be located on this earth in the not very distant future (of his time), indeed it is to be within the lifetime of many of those present. He is concerned with how people are to behave in this life and to prepare for the coming of the kingdom which is thought to be imminent. One of the reasons the early Jesus community didn’t write all this stuff down is because they didn’t think they’d need to. After all, the kingdom was right around the corner. It was only after they realized that the kingdom wasn’t coming so soon after all that they started to put everything into print. When people realized they weren’t going to be rewarded here, in their own lifetime, the doctrine evolved to where the kingdom was in the afterlife. After all the meddling by Paul and others, Christianity looked virtually nothing like what Jesus had envisioned.

    And there you have it.
  2. Felicific Forest
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    08 Dec '05 02:392 edits
    Originally posted by rwingett
    I've been studying early Christian history off and on for a while now. One thing that has interested me is how the bible came to be written. Two items in particular - the "two source hypothesis" and the "Q document", have been of great interest. Since so many of the recent threads here have been absolute garbage, I've decided to write a post about the ...[text shortened]... Christianity looked virtually nothing like what Jesus had envisioned.

    And there you have it.
    Do you believe all this ?


    EDIT: I mean do you think this, the above, is true ?
  3. Standard memberNemesio
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    08 Dec '05 02:41
    Originally posted by rwingett
    I've been studying early Christian history off and on for a while now. One thing that has interested me is how the bible came to be written. Two items in particular - the "two source hypothesis" and the "Q document", have been of great interest. Since so many of the recent threads here have been absolute garbage, I've decided to write a post about the ...[text shortened]... Christianity looked virtually nothing like what Jesus had envisioned.

    And there you have it.
    A very fine summary.

    The Jesus Seminar embarked upon a (controversial) categorization of the sayings of
    Jesus by studying the canonical Gospels and the Gospel of St Thomas. For each thing
    that Jesus says, there is a commentary. It is an interesting read, even if one disagrees
    with the conclusions about what is most authentically Jesus and the stuff that is either
    'filler material' (such as, 'Any one with two ears better listen!'😉 or interpolative stuff
    that many think is the product of later writers (such as the prophesies about the
    destruction of the Temple). It is not unlike what Thomas Jefferson did when he made
    his edition of the Gospels, in which he makes editorial decisions about what Jesus was
    like (using less advanced critical apparatus than the Jesus Seminar book).

    The book is called 'The Five Gospels.' People interested should check out Amazon,
    which has it.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/006063040X/qid=1134009539/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-6614597-0618420?n=507846&s=books&v=glance
  4. Standard memberNemesio
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    08 Dec '05 02:41
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    Do you believe all this ?


    EDIT: I mean do you think this, the above, is true ?
    Don't you?!
  5. Donationrwingett
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    08 Dec '05 02:43
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    Do you believe all this ?


    EDIT: I mean do you think this, the above, is true ?
    I think it is a compelling theory. Is it true? I couldn't say for sure. But there are a number of reputable biblical scholars who think so.
  6. Felicific Forest
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    08 Dec '05 02:48
    Originally posted by Nemesio
    Don't you?!
    Do you ?
  7. Felicific Forest
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    08 Dec '05 02:49
    Originally posted by rwingett
    I think it is a compelling theory. Is it true? I couldn't say for sure. But there are a number of reputable biblical scholars who think so.
    Rwingo: "But there are a number of reputable biblical scholars who think so."

    Who are they ? Which denomination do they belong to ?
  8. Standard memberNemesio
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    08 Dec '05 02:531 edit
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    Do you believe all this ?


    EDIT: I mean do you think this, the above, is true ?
    The RCC gives credence to this theory as well. In the NAB, the prologoue to the
    Gospel of St Matthew includes the following:

    The questions of authorship, sources, and the time of compsoition of this gospel have received
    many answers, none of which can claim more than a greater or lesser degree of probability.
    The one now favored by the majority of scholars is the following.

    The ancient tradition that the author was the disciple and apostle of Jesus anemd Matthew is
    untenable becasue the gospel is based, in large part, on the Gospel according to Mark, and it is
    hardly likely that a companion of Jesus would have followed so extensively an account that came
    from one who admittedly never had such an association rather than rely on his own memories....

    The unknown author, whom we shall continue to call Matthew for the sake of convenience, drew
    not only upon the Gospel according to Mark but upon a large body of material not found in Mk that
    coreesponds, sometimes exactly, to material found also in the Gospel according to Luke. This
    material, called 'Q', represents traditions, written and oral, used by both Matthew and Luke. Mark
    and Q are sources common to the other two synoptic gospels; hence the name the "Two-Source
    Theory" given to this explanation of the relation among the synoptics. [Parenthetical material is
    left out for expediency]

    Nemesio
  9. Standard memberNemesio
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    08 Dec '05 02:55
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    Do you ?
    I feel that it is by far the most probably and plausible theory about the genesis of the
    Gospels.

    What theory do you ascribe to?

    Nemesio
  10. Donationrwingett
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    08 Dec '05 02:58
    Originally posted by Nemesio
    The RCC gives credence to this theory as well. In the NAB, the prologoue to the
    Gospel of St Matthew includes the following:

    The questions of authorship, sources, and the time of compsoition of this gospel have received
    many answers, none of which can claim more than a greater or lesser degree of probability.
    The one now favored by the majority of s ...[text shortened]... e relation among the synoptics. [Parenthetical material is
    left out for expediency]

    Nemesio
    Well, I guess that clinches it then.
  11. Felicific Forest
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    08 Dec '05 02:58
    Originally posted by Nemesio
    I feel that it is by far the most probably and plausible theory about the genesis of the
    Gospels.

    What theory do you ascribe to?

    Nemesio
    I do not adhere to any theory.
  12. Not Kansas
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    08 Dec '05 03:01
    Originally posted by rwingett
    I think it is a compelling theory. Is it true? I couldn't say for sure. But there are a number of reputable biblical scholars who think so.
    I'm still trying to figure out whether Christians think they get judged right after death or whether they wait until a future Judgement Day.
    If this Q says that the Day was near, I wonder if it supports the second view?
  13. Standard memberNemesio
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    08 Dec '05 03:04
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    I do not adhere to any theory.
    What does this mean?

    Certainly you think SOMEONE wrote the Gospels. Who do you think did?

    That would be the theory you adhere to.

    Nemesio
  14. Donationrwingett
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    08 Dec '05 03:06
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    [b]Rwingo: "But there are a number of reputable biblical scholars who think so."

    Who are they ? Which denomination do they belong to ?[/b]
    I can list three books which mention Q:

    The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings by Bart D. Ehrman

    From Jesus to Christianity : How Four Generations of Visionaries & Storytellers Created the New Testament and Christian Faith by L. Michael White

    Who Wrote the New Testament? : The Making of the Christian Myth by Burton L. Mack

    I've read other things by Bart Ehrman. He's the Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  15. Donationrwingett
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    08 Dec '05 13:22
    Originally posted by KneverKnight
    I'm still trying to figure out whether Christians think they get judged right after death or whether they wait until a future Judgement Day.
    If this Q says that the Day was near, I wonder if it supports the second view?
    I think the concept of Judgement Day is a post-Jesus embellishment to Christianity.

    Actually, the Q document is largely thought to have been composed in three different stages (Q1, Q2, and Q3). Q1 is the earliest layer, with many of Jesus' sayings. Q2 was written later when the Jesus community had begun to meet more opposition. It's a more judgemental portion of the document, with pronoucements of apocolyptic doom for those who refused the coming kingdom. By Q3 we see Jesus being elevated to the status of a divine being.

    So within Q we can see the evolution of early Christian thought as it developed.
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